Contraceptive Practices of Women With Complex Congenital Heart Disease

Published:December 17, 2016DOI:


      • Unplanned pregnancies in women with congenital heart disease.
      • Adverse events from oral contraception.
      • Contraception counseling.
      • Complex congenital heart disease thrombotic risk substrates.
      Understanding the contraceptive practices of women with complex congenital heart disease (CHD) and providing them individualized contraception counseling may prevent adverse events and unplanned high-risk pregnancies. Given this, we sought to examine the contraceptive practices in women with CHD, describe adverse events associated with contraceptive use, and describe the provision of contraception counseling. Women >18 years were recruited from 2011 to 2014 from 9 adult CHD (ACHD) centers throughout North America. Subjects completed a 48-item questionnaire regarding contraceptive use and perceptions of contraception counseling, and a medical record review was performed. Of 505 subjects, median age was 33 (interquartile range 26 to 44) and 81% had CHD of moderate or great complexity. The majority (86%, 435 of 505) of the cohort had used contraception. The types included barrier methods (87%), oral contraception (OC) 84%, intrauterine device (18%), Depo-Provera (15%), vaginal ring (7%), patch (6%), hormonal implant (2%), Plan B (19%), and sterilization (16%). Overall OC use was not significantly different by CHD complexity. Women with CHD of great complexity were more likely to report a thrombotic event while taking OC than those with less complex CHD (9% vs 1%, p = 0.003). Contraception counseling by the ACHD team was noted by 43% of subjects. Unplanned pregnancy was reported by 25% with no statistical difference by CHD complexity. In conclusion, contraceptive practices of women with complex CHD are highly variable, and the prevalence of blood clots while taking OC is not insignificant while provision of contraception counseling by ACHD providers appears lacking.
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